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Water Therapy for Dogs - Introducing an old dog to a swimming pool

If a dog resists the water, it may be too cold, or it may be aware of physical issues. Always assist dogs with joint pain. No dog should ever be "fat," as it is very hard on their little legs and feet.
If a dog resists the water, it may be too cold, or it may be aware of physical issues. Always assist dogs with joint pain. No dog should ever be "fat," as it is very hard on their little legs and feet.
Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

If you like to swim, but your dog is not a typical "water dog," it could be a difficult task to get your "best friend" to swim with you. If your dog is old, it may be even more difficult.

Swimming is not only wonderful exercise for people of all ages, it is also wonderful exercise for dogs; particularly old dogs.

However, even in warm climates in the Summertime, a pool could be too cool for a dog suffering with stiff, achy joints or arthritis. Heating a pool, just enough to get the chill out, would be more inviting to an old dog.

Still, your dog may need to be coaxed into the water, especially if he or she had not been around a swimming pool before. Be careful not to be too forceful, as you could end up scaring the dog even more.

You must gain your dogs trust, in order to get them into the water. They must feel safe and secure with the whole idea, or it will not work out well.

First, you must consider the fact that once a dog is off the steps into the pool, their feet cannot touch the bottom. This fact, along, may cause a dog to panic, and hurry over to the edge of pool to get out.

Allowing your dog to do this is positive thing, if they are young and strong enough to pull themselves out safely, with out hurting them selves. Then they would feel confident in knowing they could get out themselves.

However, an older dog would most likely not be able to pull itself out, and that would create more of a panic.

The best way to introduce an old dog to this "new trick" of swimming in a swimming pool, is by holding them up, and letting them feel their legs kicking through the water.

Always start out from the steps. Take them for a brief swim around the shallow end, and bring them back to the steps. Let them feel their feet on the step, and guide them out safely.

Do this exercise consistently, on a daily basis if possible, increasing the time spent in the water. Each time, allow your dog to feel more of his/her own weight in the water, each time guiding them safely to the steps to get out.

After three or four times, you may want to introduce a tube to help add a feeling of support to your dog. A tube may work well for a dog who has a strong upper body, but weak hips and hind legs.

Now your best friend can exercise it's weak hips and legs, and receive the best physical therapy, easily and enjoyably.

This will not only improve your pet physically, but will help exercise it's brain, and uplift it's mood to a feeling of well-being.

What better gift could you give your old dog?

See dogs learning how to swim here at Splashdogs!